Thursday, February 28, 2008

Swing low, sweet chariot...

We don't have a chariot necessarily, but my engineering self put together the swing today (all by my onesies!). Even Roman loves it, with all the buttons and speeds. It has a music button and a "white noise" button, with different selections each time you press them. Really quite cool. We had a hand-me-down that we loaned to friends, who then loaned it to friends out of state... so they were wonderful to purchase a brand new one for us. And it also got the first true interaction between brothers! Well, a stare from the little one, but he clearly knew who was "pushing his buttons" so to speak!

Roman is saying, "what do you think, Charlie? Do you like that?" Too cute.

PS: That super-cool outfit Charlie is wearing is a true newborn size! And it's a hoodie! (which in Roman's world, is the coolest a shirt can get.) Unfortunately, all the socks we have are too big for Charlie's twig-legs, so we just have to keep wrapping blankets around his feet.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


First the bad news. Rebekka's mom made sure that we couldn't see her today, by deciding at the last minute to take the day off from work and keep Rebekka busy all through the evening. Deliberate, the social worker and I believe, to keep her away from us. So the social worker told mom that Rebekka will spend the day with us next week sometime (through dinner) and there will be no argument. So there. Disappointing, but not surprising. So we will go to church after all, and I earn a day off from cooking dinner.

Charlie's vision is definitely improving. He has recognized a bottle in front of his face (the usual 8-12 inches) many times now, and today I caught him staring at a little blue bear rattle (as seen in a previous picture) in the pack & play. I picked it up and shook it, and he kicked his legs. I shook it in his line of sight, and then moved it a little without noise, and Charlie definitely tracked it a tiny bit with his head. This is a huge thing - he just keeps acting like a newborn. It's beginning to make Doug suspicious that maybe me and the FedEx man met up one day and Charlie was on time, after all! :)

We are creating a "vision" for Roman, too. This weekend begins the transformation of the burgundy room into the inside of the Millennium Falcon. You know, Star Wars? For awhile Roman wanted it to be like the ice planet Hoth, but Doug and I just could not do the nuances of snow. We can, however, paint things gray. Wickham Gray, to be specific, from the Historical Colors line of Benjamin Moore. We've got other cool ideas for the room such as painting the closet doors to look like blast doors (with a darker color gray), purchasing a cutout of one of the Star Wars characters (only $30 on a website I found), and letting Roman pick a couple posters. I also had a coworker recommend borrowing an overhead projector to paint an actual something on the wall; we're thinking where the desk will go, will look like the cockpit of the Falcon. We'll see. The goal for this weekend, however, is to get a couple coats of Kilz on the walls and maybe even get the walls painted gray.

Of course, we're not professionals, nor do we have uninterrupted time to paint. So my dad is going to help out this weekend. He helped with the nursery when we first got Roman, so why not have him help with Roman's second bedroom? Charlie will eventually go in Roman's room. While I've read experts who say do changes like this before the baby becomes so the big kid doesn't feel they are being "kicked out," Roman is so excited to have a new room and have things focused on him, I don't think it has occurred to him to feel "kicked out." We told him that Charlie doesn't get to choose, but big brothers get to. And that makes him happy.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Roman & Rebekka

Roman is done with having a little brother, I think. This weekend was really hard on him, and us. We were short on sleep anyway thanks to Charlie, who had developed a pretty bad constipation/gas issue based on the preemie formula he was taking (and therefore was awake every 45 min. or so, all night, Friday and Saturday). And Roman is tired of the attention given to Charlie, so Saturday morning began with a 6am wakeup by Roman ("I'm hungry. I'm hungry. I'm hungry" ad nauseum) until one of us told him to be quiet or there'd be no breakfast. This was followed by a pretty good morning, but then the afternoon after we got back from the hospital can be summed up in one phrase: "Who is going to play with me?" Constantly. "I can't play by myself." "I want you to keep my company." "Will you play? Will you play? Will you play?"

Combine these neverending phrases with not following directions ("Don't take your Lego guys apart, just put them away" and then he takes his Lego guy apart), and Roman was finally put to bed with no dessert and no bath at 7:15pm Saturday. We thought Sunday was going to be better, but it was pretty much more of the same - but he did follow directions a tiny bit better. This morning, however, brought a 5:15am wakeup by Roman because he had "leaked" (code word for "wet the bed"). But at least preschool saves us today. He really wants to help with a bath for Charlie but because he landed in bed early again last night (7:30pm), we saved it for today - but he doesn't know that. It will get better, I keep telling myself. It has to, before June when Roman is home all day every day with me!

Now that things are settled a bit with Charlie home, I called Rebekka's social worker this morning to see if we could set up another meeting with them so Roman & Doug could see Rebekka again too. We are going to probably see her Wednesday evening, but the news isn't very good. I'll summarize by saying she has relapsed into her old ways and because she is 17 (and been involved in the court system since she was, I think, 12 or 14), she is going to be discharged from juvenile courts ("we have exhausted all options," according to the court rep) and she will now be tried as an adult if she is caught in anything illegal; which, sadly, is just a matter of time. As Doug and I were afraid of, she still has not hit bottom and is doing "good" behavior only to keep herself out of lockup. So Wednesday will probably be the last time we see her officially through Growth Works, and maybe the last time ever unless she keeps in touch with us. It will be a sad evening indeed.

In good news, we have switched Charlie off the aforementioned preemie formula and his poos have returned to normal, with little gas or gas pains. It's a dilemma, of course, because he may need all the extra vitamins and calories, so I'll have to call the dr. to consult. But he's also taking almost 2-1/2 ounces at a feeding and appears very hungry when he wakes, so that's very good. And currently as I type, he's enjoying his first official "waketime/playtime" by being curled up in the Boppy next to me and gazing out the window. He definitely can see better - shapes definitely, and he gazes at our faces quite intently. He also knew I had a bottle in my hand earlier, because when I held it up in front of him (not in the regular feeding position, but here in the Boppy) he opened his mouth wide. Simply amazing.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ask, and ye shall receive...

I've gotten really comfortable with the idea that God will guide us in life, if we give Him the chance. God also solves a lot of things and gives us what we want - not always in the way expected, of course. Since Charlie's arrival Doug and I have done a lot of talking about the future (by email, of course - one of us is usually sleeping if we're both at home!). There are goals we have talked about before that appear to be closer, and there's that pesky issue of me returning to work (or not?) in the Fall. So the other day, I had a little talk with God. I told him that we had a couple burning issues that we needed guidance on - whether to pursue my/our desire of returning to the "west side," and separately, whether I should return to work or not. I told God there was no rush, but if He wanted to share some thoughts with us, that'd be cool.

Well. Two days later, we received an answer to the first issue - whether it was feasible to keep daydreaming about the "west side" or to shelve it for awhile. God sure does follow through quickly sometimes. In the mail we received our city assessment on our house; you know, the kind that shows what our taxable "whatever" is. Property tax. Anyway, there were a lot of minuses on it. Meaning, the assessed value of our house has gone down (which I suppose, thereby, means our property taxes will eventually go down). But the bottom line is: The value of our house, in one year, has decreased 13.2%. If I told you in numbers, your jaw would drop. And based on our experience with an independent assessment a few years ago, the city is pretty much right on.

So goodbye, equity of the past few years. Our house won't be for sale again anytime soon. But thanks, God, for at least giving us that message loud and clear! No moving to the "west side" for at least 2 years, and from the looks of things based on the economy in Michigan, probably closer to 3-4 years. So.

It still could be much worse and I am thankful every day - we can afford our house payments. Which for a lot of people in Michigan right now, especially around Metro Detroit, you can't say that. The "recession" or whatever you want to call it, is starting to hit closer to us - we know a couple who is filing for bankruptcy, and a family who is losing their home. Whether it's based on a bad choice in mortgage financing, or buying a home before selling another (whew! that was close), losing an income, or what have you - things are not good around here.

To cheer myself up from that 13.2% news, I tried a new outfit on Charlie yesterday. He officially fits in Newborn clothes. Well, some NB clothes. This is a brand called "Just One Year" by Carter's. Adorable.

And I'm not sure everyone's aware, but that boy's hair is getting redder and redder. Eyebrows and eyelashes, too, are becoming less blonde, and more golden red. You have to look at the whole head, but here's the evidence.

I'll have an update including Roman tomorrow - he had a rough day today and it's best to wait for me to like his behavior a bit more before I write about him!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Being a preemie, continued.

Charlie's first full-body bath at home. Heh. He likes his head and face being washed, but clearly, not his whole body!
Everything here is going along just fine. We're settling into our 3-hour schedule, our nighttimes are getting tolerable -or, we're getting used to our lack of sleep. I still forget things and am pretty clueless when anything is attempted to be explained to me. My brain slowly turning to mush. Perhaps I will shut off the tv and start reading again... although we are trying to keep the house noisy so Charlie is used to it. Music, I guess, will finally make a reappearance in our household life. So goodbye for today, "Regis & Kelly"... I will have to miss one of your rerun episodes, "Crossing Jordan"... and I will go without household decorating advice from HGTV for today. Ah, the sacrifices.

Charlie has increased his feedings again... we just kind of fill the bottle and see what he takes. Lately he has been taking between 60-80cc. In fact, he slept an hour extra last night - to almost 1:30am - I think because he had such a large feeding at 10pm. We are already daydreaming of the day we can do a 2:00am feeding and stretch the night to 4-hour feedings. Can you imagine - 10pm, 2am, 6am? A dream that is a couple months off, I fear, but still...

Some well-minded people are still attempting to give us advice based on a newborn. Please stop. Although I guess they don't all read my blog. Preemies are preemies, whether they are completely healthy and discharged in 3 weeks, or really sick and spend months in the NICU. Even a healthy preemie like Charlie will develop at his "adjusted age" for the first year... meaning anything a newborn would do, Charlie will do a couple months later. Doug and I are counting this current time as "zero time." While his birthday is in January, we're not really counting anything until his magical due date. The doctors said he may surprise us - goodness knows he has already - but to assume adjusted-age at least until he's walking (which again, may be around 14 months, assuming a 12-month development).

Tomorrow is going to be a funny day. The boys in this house constantly surprise me. Doug said at dinner that he was going to go to the hospital and return the breast pump we've been renting. He invited Roman to go along too, and they made plans to eat in the hospital cafeteria for lunch. Roman is SO excited, it's like a food wonderland for him. Doug then said that they would leave me at home with Charlie but Roman said no, he wants it to be a family trip. How funny! So we're all going to the hospital for lunch tomorrow. And probably visit the NICU in hopes of catching weekend-Nurse Amy.
Isn't this bottom picture adorable? Charlie is a side-sleeper, as shocking as it would be to the "back to sleep" people. We do place him onto his back most of the time, but the way to calm him when he's thrashing is to swaddle and roll him on his side. Always his right side, too - just like his Mama. Do you think I influenced him in the womb? It's the way I fell asleep every night for 7 months!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Doctors and diapers

Both boys had an appointment with the pediatrician this morning. Whew. I think I was more emotionally drained than either of them after it was all over. We were there for 2 hours - and that was with no delays, as the office is good about getting us in. The physical report: Roman is between 75 & 90th percentile for height and weight. He weighed about 37, I think, and I don't know his height. They checked his eyes and they were fine. Charlie: He is between 50 & 75th percentile in weight (he broke 5 pounds!) and head circumference, and he is off the charts - in a good way - for his length (18 inches).

Now, the pain report: Roman had to have FOUR shots to wrap up his immunizations before school starts. Can you believe it?! The poor boy. We knew about 3 of them and had prepared him. He was scared and cried a bit in anticipation, but when they told him there would be four, he fell apart. I think people in the next building could hear him screaming. I had to hold him on my lap, his legs locked in mine, me bear-hugging his arms, and they did two at a time, all in the arms. It was horrible. He was alternating screaming "owie! owie! owie!" and "no more! no more!" and I was practically crying. Horrible. Luckily I had a surprise for him - a ColorWonder coloring pad and markers that a coworker gave as a present that I had held back. And then I let him choose dinner tonight, too. McDonald's, of course.
Charlie also got poked unpleasantly. They wanted to do a followup CBC so they heel-poked him. They tried the preemie-poker but he didn't bleed fast enough, so they used the regular one. That made him cry quite a bit, and he was worn out afterward - I couldn't even get him to do more than an ounce at the feeding right after. So both boys had a trying day. And so did Mama.

In good news with Charlie, he has finally become aware of the contents of his diaper. Strange, you may ask? Until a couple days ago, Charlie did not care if he laid in a poopy diaper or had an overly wet diaper - there was no reaction at all. He ate and slept. We have noted that he now wakes up if he is poopy, or can't go to sleep if his diaper is full. It seems he is aware of it, which to me means he's becoming cognizant of the world he is living in now. Just one more amazing step!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mom of a preemie

Too tired to string words together tonight, but wanted to bring awareness to this adaptation from Erma Bombeck's book, "Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession." I found it in my travels across the Internet and it makes me feel very good. Plus, I love(d) Erma Bombeck.

How Preemie Moms Are Chosen

Did you ever wonder how the mothers of premature babies are chosen? Somehow, I visualize God hovering over Earth, selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger.
"Beth Armstrong, son. Patron Saint, Matthew."
"Marjorie Forrest, daughter. Patron Saint, Ceceilia."
"Carrie Rutledge, twins. Patron Saint ... give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."

Finally, he passes a name to an angel and smiles. "Give her a preemie."

The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy."
"Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a premature baby a mother who knows no laughter? That would be cruel."
"But does she have patience?" asks the angel.
"I don't want her to have too much patience, or she'll drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she'll handle it.
I watched her today. She has that sense of self and independence so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has a world of its own. She has to make it live in her world, and that's not going to be easy."
"But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."
God smiles. "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just the right amount of selfishness."
The angel gasps, "Selfishness?! Is that a virtue?"
God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't know it yet, but she is to be envied.
She will never take for granted a spoken word.
She will never consider a step ordinary.
When her child says 'Mama' for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it.

I will permit her to see clearly the things I see – ignorance, cruelty, prejudice – and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side."

"And what about her Patron Saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in the air.
God smiles. "A mirror will suffice."

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Really, this is a baby's life. And our schedule. Sleep, feed, attempt to "play," and sleep. Charlie does a lot of sleep, feed, attempt to stay awake, sleep. We're pretty flexible on things and will be until around due date (at which time we will get a little more disciplined on sticking to a schedule). In reference to my previous post, we are proponents of the "parent-led" schedule, which despite what most people believe, has flexibility in it. The hospital put him on a wonderful 3-hour schedule which can only get longer as he grows bigger - who would want to screw that up?

What we have found is that Charlie wants a lot of "being held" time. If he wakes halfway through his sleep mode, that's usually why - he just wants to be cuddled. Which we are happy to oblige, although at 2am or 3am it's a little trying. Roman was that way too, but at 9 months it was a little more frustrating - and heavy!

Anyway, to the topic at hand - food. Charlie is beginning to increase some of his feedings, luckily the nighttime ones - he takes now about 50-60cc during the day, and he took 70cc at two feedings last night. Toward the end of his feedings, no matter how much, we notice he enters his "food coma." This is characterized by complete and utter bliss, mouth hanging opening, appearing in a deep sleep - although he's not. He will awaken within a few minutes for a burp or attempt to stay awake. Actually, the food coma looks like this:

And marking the end of a mini-era, the last of the breastmilk will be used in the next couple days. And no more will I experience bottles and stickers, which have characterized my life since January 18.

Friday, February 15, 2008

One month old, or minus-six weeks

Charlie is one month old as of last night. It's slightly bittersweet, as I suppose all dates & anniversaries will be for the next few months. I mean, I look at him sometimes and think, "you're still supposed to be in my belly! For another six weeks!" He has improved in this one month - he looks and sounds more like a baby. However, the normal strides that a newborn makes occurs in teeny tiny little increments with preemies. To me, outside of the fact he's filling out a little more, he acts much the same way he did in the incubator.

As for age, of course, it's a challenge identifying it for other people. Today we had an appt. with a retinal specialist, which I will talk about later in the post. They had to put two sets of 3 eyedrops in his eyes. They do this in the waiting room. I had to pull Charlie out of his carseat for them to do it (it took two nurses, one to hold his eyes and one to put the drops in - I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere). The nurses and nearby people all oohed and ahhed over him & his size, and one asked inevitably, "how old is he?" Now, how do I answer that? He's not "one month old" in the traditional sense. Do I say "34 weeks gestation" and have a quizzical look given? I finally said, "he was born 10 weeks early a month ago." Make them do the math. Hah. Doug calls this being "minus-six weeks old."

The eye dr. confirmed my thoughts that preemies go by gestational age. His comment after the (very quick) exam was, "we will see you every 2 weeks until he's 45 weeks." This adjusted-age-preemie numbering is quickly going to confuse me. I think I mentioned that before, but it really is. Anyway, as for the appointment, it's really one of the only major things to worry about with an otherwise-healthy preemie. The retinas take 40 weeks to develop. If a baby's born early, it interrupts this development and can take much longer to develop - up to a month longer, hence the "45 weeks" check. Structurally, however, everything looked fine at this appointment. It was at the office building next to the hospital, so maybe on another trip we'll go visit the NICU to say hi.

Included now, some one-month-old pictures for you - including one of Roman eating his Valentine's pizza. Nope, not a very exciting holiday at this house this year. Although I did get slightly creative and for dessert we had strawberries with vanilla pudding. Strawberries are Roman's 2nd-favorite fruit after blueberries, so he was very, very pleased. And in the other pictures, I tried to give you an idea of scale, still: That little blue bear next to his head is a newborn rattle - it's the size of Charlie's face! And in Doug's arms, well, he's definitely just a little "Skippy" peanut still.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

no update today

Got busy this morning, tired this evening. Took a few pictures today so I'll post tomorrow with them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Unpredictable infants!

It's been a long time since I've seen 12am turn into 1am, turn into 2am... and I'm sure Doug doesn't want to remember the last time he saw 4am slide into 6am (but wait - that was with Roman!)... but that was our night last night. Little ol' blue eyes apparently doesn't like his every-three-hour feeding schedule anymore, and thinks every 2 hours... or maybe 4 hours... it depends on how sleepy he is.... maybe he's just pooping... you get the idea.

With a preemie it's a fine line between newborn advice and your own/his own needs. There's a debate in new-parent circles between demand-feeding a baby and putting one on a schedule, and child-led schedules vs. parent-led schedules... but with a preemie it's hard to judge those arguments. He's on a mandatory 35cc per feeding; sometimes he takes 60cc. Should we increase amount of feedings or keep him at a high level of liquids? He may sleep for 4 hours, but he is starving and then spits up. Or he's waking up every 2 hours anyway just to need soothing & say hello to us, so should we just go ahead and feed him anyway? I certainly don't want to be trapped in an every-two-hour feeding schedule when every-three was demanding enough, but do-able. So I guess the next couple days we're just going to play around with amounts & times and see what happens.

The concern underlying this, of course, is he has a desperate need to continue gaining weight and make sure all systems are operating. And his systems are much smaller than that of a newborn, so a lot of suggestions (how many ounces he "should" be drinking) just cannot apply right now. And that even goes for sleeping - because he's at adjusted age, does that mean he won't start sleeping longer until 4 or 5 months from now, rather than 3? With the little bits of time I can snatch, I'm needing to do some more preemie research online.

It's funny, because I thought with Charlie on an every-3-hour schedule I could certainly at least sneak in a shower. I don't have high hopes for my days anymore after having both kids home the past couple days. But here it is, 11:30, and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to shower AND empty the dishwasher before I go pick Roman up (hope to leave at 2:30, because assuming normal feeding schedule, I have to be home around 4pm to feed Charlie again). Of course, maybe less time blogging.... nah!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The household is feeling a bit better.

Funny, when preemie & Dad are the healthiest people in the house. We'll talk about my aches in a minute, but poor Roman has strep throat. I just wasn't asking the right question. "Does your throat hurt?" Got a "no" response. When Daddy asked "Does your throat hurt when you swallow?" we got an emphatic "yes." Nice. We looked in the throat, saw the white bumps, and there you have it. Because we wanted him to get on antibiotics right away, I took him to the walk-in clinic last night. Turns out Charlie can't get strep at his age - no tonsillar pillars - but he can, of course, get congestion & cough which Roman also has. Roman is obviously much better today, his fever broke; I think he actually has a cold underneath the strep. So here's crossing fingers that Doug or I don't get it. Any of it.
Roman picked out his own clothes on a healthier day.

For me, it's been a matter of retraining my body for an infant. At least this go-round the baby is only 4 pounds (4 pounds, 11 ounces, according to dr. yesterday) while Roman was already 19 pounds when we brought him home. But my arms, shoulders, and neck ache in strange places - cramped from holding Charlie for feedings & the like. My mid & low back hurt when we change him (not using a changing table, but a desk - we're cheap). And the biggest deal of all (one covered all over with guilt) is the fact that I decided to stop pumping as well, and so have to let things "dry up."

Caution: intimate details ahead! There is no magic pill for drying up the girls - the one that was used back in the day apparently also carries with it a high risk of stroke. And leave it up to a field dominated by men to not come up with another solution. So my OB gave me advice that I had also found on the Internet: cabbage leaves. Strange sounding, you think? They are a miracle cure. I quit pumping Friday afternoon and had a very, very sore Saturday. Doug got me a head of cabbage & combined with Tylenol, I get 2-3 hours of pain-free boobs. I fold/crush the leaves to break the veins, layer them around the girls inside my bra, and wah-lah! I also have to use pads too. This is really not fun. And this morning Tuesday, there's still some pain. And the irritation of having to wear a bra 24/7. And what I also think is interesting is that nowhere, except the Internet, could I find advice on stopping pumping/breastfeeding. Most books recommend you feed for 6-10 months. But then the advice stops. Not very helpful. I think if I could come up with a solution to this issue, I could be a millionaire.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday morning... not what I had planned.

As seems to be typical of the last, oh... since January 1st, my plans again went awry for today. Roman developed a fever on Saturday night that continues to pop up whenever we stop giving Children's Tylenol, so he is staying home today from preschool. So my glorious first official day home with just me and Charlie, of which I - dare I say it - had actually made a plan for, has fallen by the wayside in favor of arguing with a tired & sick 4-year-old. Examples, all of which have come out of my mouth today:

"No, you can't play Lego Star Wars game all day. No, you can't just drink juice all day; you have to eat something too. No, you can't have a fruit snack. You have to eat something healthy. No, a Nutty Bar is not healthy. Choose, Roman, the Darth Vader game or a video. I'm not switching power cords all day long. Oh, of course Roman, you know everything, so don't follow my directions. I'm NOT getting your Valentines out now, we'll do it this afternoon after nap. Yes, your nap, not Charlie's. Oh, yes, you ARE having a nap..."

In other news, Charlie, Daddy, and I have worked out a pretty good nighttime schedule. I will go to bed early (around 9 or 10pm) and Daddy does the 10pm feeding. I get up for the 1am feeding. Daddy gets up for the 4am feeding. Then we both get up at 6 or 6:30 to start the day. Not too bad. We both actually felt slightly rested today.
Roman believes he can understand Charlie's grunts, and it's pretty amusing to hear what Charlie says. He does not like Thomas videos, he doesn't like Star Wars, and he likes his bottles. A few minutes ago Roman told me that Charlie is barking like a dog, "and I don't like that."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Since Charlie has come home...

He has been held almost constantly for 36 hours.
He has gone through 4 outfits.
Amy has been pooped and peed on. Doug has not.
Roman went shopping with Grandpa and got a Star Wars Lego set (post-films ship).
Roman had a meltdown at dinner, begged to "go rest," and fell asleep in bed at 5:30pm.
Grandpa has not fed Charlie but held him all afternoon.
Baba has fed Charlie twice and got 3 good burps out of him.
Doug has gotten approx. 6 hours of sleep (in 2-hour increments).
Amy has gotten approximately 4 hours of sleep, plus a half-hour nap.
Roman has "petted" Charlie twice and checked on him whenever we've asked.

No pictures - I'm typing on a different computer. Perhaps tomorrow.

Friday, February 08, 2008

We're home!

Can you believe it?! And of course, he's already screwing up his hospital-made schedule. He didn't want to eat at 2:30 and only took half his normal feeding, then he was hungry 2 hours later and had almost 20cc. So who knows how much he'll take at the next feeding? What a stinker. So much for having an every-three-hour night. But if you consider what he has gone through today - circumcision, car ride, change in location - I guess my day would be a little thrown off too.

Roman was very excited to have his little brother home, and he even made a sparkly glitter picture for near Charlie's bed. We're going to pose for a whole-family picture after dinner. More updates later.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

As ready as we can be... (with pictures)

I spent a good bit of time with Charlie today. Did 3 feedings, one in which he sucked down 50cc (almost 2 ounces) without burping or pausing longer than a couple breaths. That boy is hungry! He weighed 1995 grams this afternoon, which is 4.4 pounds. They did a "bath demo" for me, which is nice because honestly, I've never bathed a newborn. Roman screamed for the first month of baths, but he also could sit up on his own so no problems there. Dr. Man (I can't remember his last name), the resident who replaced Dr. Magdalena, came by for a chat and reviewed discharge. Nurse Carol also got his discharge paperwork going so it would be a bit faster for us in the morning.

Roman has chosen to go to preschool in the morning instead of to the hospital. I have mixed feelings about this. In my "Norman Rockwell" mind I want the whole family to be there and experience it together. But, I know that discharge will take awhile and there will be lots of instructions, too, and if Ro were there we would all get impatient. So I'm glad he spoke up, because otherwise I would have him go. He'll come home early from preschool but that will give us time to settle in, too. I guess.

And of course, our adventure can't stop yet. After the first feeding this morning, Nurse Sue came rushing in and said we were being moved to a multiple-pod immediately. Within a half hour they were going to need Charlie's room, which is more intensive care. So with 24 hours left, Charlie has a new room - the "purple pod":

Although I guess you can't see the purple walls in this picture. Imagine Easter-egg purple. It's wild. You can see our car seat on the floor there, too. Of course it's orange! I thought about taking pictures of the bath, but figured I better watch and concentrate instead. I had to leave after the last feeding at 5:00 and Charlie just wouldn't burp, so I had to hand him over to a nurse assistant to try. However, on my way out I did snap some pictures. And that's for "Bubba" who requested less words & more pictures in the blog. :)

Super-speed nesting

Again, our dining room looks like a baby store exploded inside it. Between things borrowed and bought, we haven't put anything away... and the washer & dryer are in use quite a bit trying to wash floor blankets, the little outfits, receiving blankets, preparing everything for, uh... tomorrow. We got confirmation that unless something goes drastically wrong, Charlie will be discharged sometime after 10am on Friday. Drs. do their rounds then, they will do a final check on him, and then Doug and I will receive our instructions.

Charlie received 2 shots yesterday for the start of immunizations, I had to leave early due to weather so I couldn't comfort him. That bothered me a lot. I asked about when the circumcision would be done and they said "whenever the dr. comes in" so that irritates me as well, maybe not being able to be there to comfort him. It's very much like when Roman was in Russia, knowing these things were happening but not being able to be a parent. I think this is almost worse, though, because I like to fancy that Charlie knows I'm Mama, and maybe he wonders why I'm not there when painful things happen? Although Doug reminds me that he kept getting his IV moved and that was probably painful. I said I just didn't like to think about that, and tomorrow can't come soon enough.

On the plus side, Charlie continues to thrive with feedings. The nurses on Tuesday night decided to see how much he would truly take in a feeding; his minimum has to be 35cc (a bit over 1 ounce). Well, during the day he will only take about 35cc. At night, he was taking between 50 and 60cc - two ounces! I suspect he will really start to chunk it on once he can be at home.

I believe the next few days will be short posts as things are going to get a bit... busy!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Oh my gosh, holy crap...

I mean the title in a good way. I think. I must repeat... holy crap. I went to the hospital as is my usual habit, settled in with Charlie in my arms, and continued reading a book. Nurse Debbie came in and we chatted about how well Charlie is doing. Nurse said that based on weight, Charlie could come out of the isolette & into an open-air bassinet. This just amazed me and I was thrilled! Then, as Nurse perused his chart, she asked if anyone had "talked dates" with me yet. I knew she meant when Charlie would be discharged. I said the last thing I had heard - a couple weeks if things continued to go well. She laughed. I felt a stab of excited dread. She said, "if he does well in the bassinet, he'll be going home this weekend." WHAT?!

Jaw hit the floor. I started laughing. Almost cried. What?! I told her my mom was coming this weekend so we could shop for things we needed; Nurse laughed again and said, "I think you need to go out shopping tonight. Your mom can help you set things up." I said I didn't even have a carseat! Nurse reiterated - "You might want to go out shopping tonight." Apparently I appeared so dumbfounded she felt the need to call the Resident Doctor in. He agreed with Nurse's assessment and explained to me the following:
Assuming no setbacks, Charlie has to be in open air for 48 hours. If all goes well, he can be discharged. Since we want a circumcision, that will probably be scheduled for Thursday; so he would be ready for discharge on Friday at the earliest. Of course, we can't quote him on that - but he figured it would be this weekend.

Oh, my gosh. Holy crap. I called Doug and left a message, which he thought was a pretty funny joke. He's still trying to recover from the near-heart attack. And we did go out tonight to get the basics to get us through the weekend - bottles, diapers, and oh yeah, a carseat. A few other little things that we figured we'd need (baby lotion, sheets for the bassinet). I'm hearing rumors of family & friends wanting to celebrate Charlie with showers in the future once things are settled, so I didn't get too much. The Hardy family again came to the rescue and had Roman over to play Star Wars on the Wii so Doug and I could shop in peace. And then loaned us their bassinet.

So we've got sleep, poop, and milk covered. I think we're good for now.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Charlie keeps moving forward

I arrived at the hospital to find that Charlie's nose-tube had been taken out - he is now getting all feedings by bottle! I was fortunate enough to give him 2 bottles today. And do lots of cuddling, of course. His hair is continuing to grow in, quite blonde. He searches for my face when I'm talking to him, it's really quite amazing. He did have a couple issues with milk coming back up - once through his nose & mouth, and it appeared he had spit up quite a bit on his outfit before I came. The nurse reassures me that at this stage milk's as easy coming up as it is going down, so not to worry.

The nurses also keep telling us "he won't be here long" and "hope you guys are getting ready for him to go home!" This strikes fear into me. I'm just getting used to him being in the world, for goodness sakes. And he still makes me very nervous - it's that floppy head of his. Anyway, so Roman and I took a field trip to Babies R Us this afternoon. I am amazed at how much I have forgotten in the almost 4 years since Roman arrived. I picked up a "new parents guide to stuff" to remind me of all the essentials. There are quite a few things which we will have to dig out/buy new, which makes me excited. There is a sense of urgency in my brain too, although my Mom reminds me that all we need the first night is a bottle, diapers, and a place for him to sleep!

So here's a few things which we must get, borrow, or recover in the next couple months:

monitor, travel mirror, cloth diapers for burping, more bottles, pacifiers, bibs, digital thermometer, bathtub, liquids (lotion/oil/butt paste - thanks, Miss Katie!), diapers, a new diaper bag (that's an indulgence), infant car seat/carrier (and stroller frame?), one of those infant cushion inserts for our existing carseat, car sunshade, bedding for a bassinet, our bouncy-rocker chair...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Going out in public is really hard.

I think a little post-partum "baby blues" has finally begun to hit. It's totally expected that I, being slightly more prone to depression than most people, would have it anyway. Doug is under constant vigilance to make sure I don't fall into PPD. I know all the signs and symptoms, and even know what to do when I have them for an extended amount. So we'll see what happens. It's a bummer with Charlie in the hospital, can't figure out what's normal baby blues and what's stress from the situation.
I'm not happy with what hormones are doing to my body postpartum either; specifically, acne. It was bad while pregnant, but now it's like my torso is one big zit. Yuck. I thought I'd try to cheer myself up today by slipping on a non-maternity shirt that I should be able to wear, forgetting that my "girls" are even bigger now than when I was pregnant. So my wardrobe currently is as follows: 2 pairs of velour elastic-waist lounge pants from K-Mart are the only "normal" pants that fit. My maternity tops are rapidly becoming too big; my prepregnancy shirts are too small in the bust. So I'm opting for the "too big" route, which makes me feel like a blob. I can't exercise for another 4 weeks. Who would've thought I'd want to exercise?

So. Back to going out in public. Friday evening I began to dread Saturday, partly because we needed to pay attention to Roman's needs and I couldn't see Charlie until late in the afternoon. I don't like weekends because I can't spend all day at the hospital. Anyway, I said I'd take Roman to a birthday party at the bowling alley because 1. Doug needed the break, and 2. I was feeling the depression coming on and knew I needed to force myself to go out. It sucked. There were a couple moms there of Roman's buddies that I made small talk with. They were nice, but I found it very difficult to chitchat when my brain is screaming, "my baby is in the NICU! I don't care about getting to know you!"
A couple moms also, of course, mentioned they'd love to organize a playdate with Roman & their own kid. I love that Roman has friends and that he's a nice friend, to be invited. I hate that I should do these playdates, but the energy I must round up to call these women (I really dislike talking on the phone) and work out a date & time (which would invariably take me away from the hospital) is too much. Then I feel guilty because Roman shouldn't suffer simply because I want to be selfish. And then these thoughts continue to go around in my head and I am mentally exhausted.

I went to church, too, today. Because I knew I had to get it over with, talk to everyone, say that we're fine, Charlie's fine, and thank them for their prayers and support and help. I figured also that it may help calm my brain. I didn't want to go. I didn't want to see everyone. And it didn't really calm my brain. I mean, everything really is fine - I'm feeling fine, Charlie is doing well, Roman's calming down. But nothing is fine, you know? My days are structured around my urgent need to get to the hospital (and my pumping schedule), and if I can make it for a feeding time, and how long I'll have to hold Charlie. Charlie is doing well so I kind of feel like I don't have the luxury to have a pity party.

I did, however, admit to a slightly closer group of women at church (who were marveling at how great I looked and were amazed at my upbeat attitude) that I did have down days and in fact, after church planned to go home, cry, and take a nap. Neither of which I have been able to do, come to think of it. One laughed and said, "I'm glad you said that. I was beginning to think you were superwoman." So am I supposed to tell people that well, I'm slightly depressed & I have a good cry over something every day?

Anyway. So that is my "woe is me" for the day. Yesterday we tried a hospital-local restaurant called Alex's for dinner as I got some tips from a coworker who grew up near the hospital. It's like an upscale Coney Island, it was good. Roman was thrilled to have 2 police officers sit in the booth behind us, and when one of them used the restroom Roman saw handcuffs on his belt! At least he didn't stage-whisper about the gun. We did have a brief meltdown when Daddy called Charlie his "buddy," which is also how he refers to Roman. Roman threw his head down on the chair and began to cry "because I am your buddy!" With some consoling from Daddy, however, Roman agreed to share the term of endearment.
Today Doug and I are taking turns with Charlie; I'm staying home with Roman right now and Doug is at the hospital, and then I will go up later and Doug and Roman will prepare for the Superbowl. Which the Patriots will win.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Pass the bottle, baby. With pictures.

My parents-in-law are heading home, and Doug and I are all by ourselves for real now. I can finally drive (although the car, supposedly fixed, is not. So it's going back to the fix-it shop on Monday). Our house & laundry has been done for 2 weeks in a row, giving Doug a break and me a head start on being a stay-at-home-mom for the next 8 months. Goodness, 8 months? Well, 7, technically. Wow.

Anyway, today the weather was not so good. Therefore Roman stayed home again and miraculously took a 2 hour nap. He also was tired this evening - I think we finally broke the cycle of overtiredness and he can finally start catching up. My pappy-in-law drove me up to the hospital where I was pleased to discover I did not miss the 11am feeding. And on top of that, they wanted to try bottle feeding!

And then, they reminded me that babies need burping.

Can you believe how tiny he is compared to my hand? And despite the look on his face, Charlie enjoyed it. He received 33cc of milk, and drank down the first 15cc like he'd been doing it for months. He grew pretty tired toward the end of the bottle, taking long breaks and forgetting it was in his mouth, as well as spilling a bit out of his mouth. No biggie, Nurse Karen was very pleased considering it was his first time. And all those bottle feedings we gave Roman have begun to surface back into my brain and I'm remembering how to do it.

Doug and I went back to the hospital this evening while Roman was put to bed by my in-laws, and Doug took a peek in Charlie's chart. His weight is now 1788 grams, which is 3 pounds, 15 oz; just an ounce less than 4 pounds. What a guy! Notice also what's new in this picture - the boy is wearing clothes. He's small even for preemie outfits right now, but they said we could bring in some of our clothes if we'd like. And I don't want him in hospital hand-me-downs all the time, so a couple preemie outfits we've received are going to find their way into his isolette drawers (thanks Michelle!).